Thursday, October 05, 2006

What a difference a faith makes!

Asiasentinel (www.asiasentinel.com)
04 October 2006


By Thang D. Nguyen

Whereas a jihadist (a holy warrior) is someone who fights for his religion and gets glory for it, a martyr is someone who gets killed because of it.


The three Catholic Indonesians who got executed on 21 September were the latter.

Known as the “Poso Three”, Fabianus Tibo, Marianus Riwu and Dominggus da Silva were accused of inciting violence between Muslims and Christians in 2000 that led to the deaths of some 1,000 people in the Poso port region of Sulawesi island.

Before their execution, the Vatican, the European Union, and human rights organizations had protested their convictions. Pope Benedict, in particular, wrote a letter to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono asking him for their clemency.

On their part, the three convicts admitted their guilt as charged and asked for mercy.
Unfortunately, the efforts to save their lives were in vain.

In contrast, however, Muslim Indonesian convicts tend to get much lighter sentences for more serious crimes. Last year, for instance, an Indonesian court found Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir guilty of an “evil conspiracy” to commit the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings—which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians—and handed him a 30-month jail sentence.

Ba’asyir, who is considered the spiritual head of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist group, which is blamed for the two Bali bombings, the Marriott bombing and the Australian Embassy in 2004, did his time and is now a free man. It is also worth noting that his jail term was cut short of about four months in observance of Indonesia’s Independence Day, 17 August, this year.

In addition, in early September, the Denpasar district court sentenced Dwi Widiarto to 18 years and Abdul Aziz to eight years in prison for their involvement in the 2005 Bali bombings, which killed 26 civilians and injured over 100 people. Another militant, Mohammad Cholily, was sentenced to 18 years for supplying equipment for the attacks. The same court also Anif Solchanudin to 15 years in prison for his role in helping to plan the attacks.

While 15 or 18 years may sound like a long time, they are hardly comparable with death. Many Muslim Indonesians, moreover, were upset over the convictions of the Bali bombers. It is, therefore, questionable whether the death sentence given to the Poso Three was the Indonesian government’s way of placating them.

“The Indonesian government is sacrificing true justice to provide ‘balance’ by executing these three Christians,” said Jeremy Sewell, the spokesperson of the International Christian Concern (ICC). “This is not justice. This is deception, cover-up and appeasement.”

Whether this is true or not, it is hard to justify why the Poso Three got the death sentence, whereas the Bali bombers got only 8, 15, or 18 years, depending on their charges.

Is terrorism lesser a crime than a Muslim-Christian conflict? Is it because the Bali bombers are Muslim and the Poso Three were Catholics? Or is it because, as Sewell suggested, the Indonesian government wants to please the Muslim majority at the expense of the Christian minority in Indonesia?

Whatever the reason behind the execution of the Poso Three, the message it sends is that in Indonesia, one will get a much lighter sentence for terrorism than other crimes or conflicts among regional, ethnic, and religious groups.

What’s more, the execution of the Poso Three will damage Indonesia’s international image. Founded on the motto “Unity in Diversity” (Bhinneka Tunggal Ika), Indonesia is supposed to be a nation that it has respect for, among other things, religious freedom, equality, and justice.

Unfortunately, Indonesia is still far from it. Today, many Indonesians still experience discrimination, violence, or death just because of their religious faiths; churches still get burned whenever Muslim Indonesians are angry at their Christian fellow citizens; and it is very difficult to get a permission to build a place of worship for a religion other than Islam.

To be sure, all Indonesians are equal in the eyes of God. But in reality, to paraphrase British novelist George Orwell, Muslim Indonesians are more equal than others.Justice, too, may be blind, but for Indonesians, as the execution of the Poso Three has shown, it is not faith-blind.

The writer is a Jakarta-based columnist (www.thangthecolumnist.blogspot.com). He is the editor of The Indonesian Dream: Unity, Diversity, and Democracy in Times of Distrust (Marshall Cavendish Academic, 2004).

26 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo! Amazing!

You have put into written word something I have attempted (and not executed well) to say to anyone who will listen!

When I lived there, it appeared that anyone who was NOT Muslim was not equal in Indonesia - but to hear an "insider" say that...wow!

Mutu

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You write: "Many Muslim Indonesians, moreover, were upset over the convictions of the Bali bombers".

How many of Muslim Indonesians? Can you use the word "many" in that sentence if the figure is, say, 5-10%? Do you consider how many Muslim Indonesians were not upset over the convictions of the Bali bombers?

Do you have statistics that support that sentence?

9:37 PM  
Blogger oigal said...

Rasyad,

Thang isn't big on actual figures or definitive data

3:52 AM  
Anonymous sisi said...

thang,
it is unfortunate that your articles is misleading. currently, there are 92 convicts on death row. a third of them are foreigners, who are convicted for drug trafficking. two third of the total convicts on death row are muslims. always check facts and facts, do not rely on media reports only please. misleading reports could be very dangerous.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous steve at the pub said...

Two thirds of condemned convicts are muslims?

Sisi: What proportion are muslims of the total convict population?

What proportion of muslims charged with a capital offence end up being executed?

How does this compare to non-musilms?

7:30 PM  
Blogger Thang D. Nguyen said...

Rasyad -

You've asked a legitimate question. The problem is, Indonesian Muslims who are not happy with the light sentences that the Bali bombers got do not go around saying that, even though that is how they feel.

I'm still waiting for a survey on this.

Sisi -

Where do you get your figures? Can we see your source?

And let's wait and see how many of the Muslim convicts on the death row you claimed will get executed.

Remember, Sisi, actions speak louder than words.

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Silverlines said...

I believe that the death sentence has nothing to do with whatever religion holds by the three. The same as Amrozi's, Imam's who'll get their turn soon.
One might, see the whole background of the sentence, before trying to link it with any religion reasons.
One might, want to know why, the list of sixteen people mentioned by the three of them were not followed up and some people really want to see their death instead of re-opening the case ?
One might, also want to know the feeling of those who lost their families of the bombings and actually witnessed them around.

Before trying to link it with any religin matters. Really.

12:56 AM  
Blogger tere616 said...

I read Tibo's conviction in "Hidup", our catholic magazine. He mentioned several name which he suspected and proven, was the actor of the chaos.

Also in that article, the three of them stated that they had forgiven the government, the people who caused their suffer.

I think to respect their faith, it would be good if we try to look the case from our "neutral" lense.

Otherwise we would be like the people in our government, judge them by looking into their religion.

What made me sad was their request to be burried as a catholic people being refused by our government.

It is not easy being the minority in this country, even though my husband is a moslem.

Thank you for the opinion, but it's better to burried that religion issue and concentrate on "moral" issue.

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Achmad Sudarsono said...

Dear Friends,

Just so you know who you're dealing with when replying to "Steve at the Pub.."

He's says that Australians like to fight "for fun," has villified me, Thang, and Mr. Johnny Tumengkol as racist, and insulted the work of a respected Indian professor.

Here are a few "gems" of quotes from him:

"Achmad is too busy jerking off..."

and...

"this little racist"

But this series of quotes is the most telling:


"Ramadan & Islam I am not remotely interested in.

There are literally hundreds of religions/cults/whatever on this planet.

All sorts of kooks go around believing in all sorts of things.

Fine.

You may believe/observe/starve yourself all you like.

Don't expect me to pander to YOUR superstitions/beliefs."

In a previous post, he reveals his belief that Muslims are violent:

"Groups of muslims (under cover of darkness) selected certain streets in non-muslim suburbs, and vandalised every car in those streets. Windows were smashed on houses, and some citizens were beaten, some citizens were stabbed, some received multiple stab wounds. Grievous injuries were inflicted."

Concluding with: "Explain why Australia should NOT consider repatriation of all Lebanese muslims."

Friends, deep down, Steve is not a bad person. He's just very ignorant and none too bright. I explore the forces working on Steve and other Australians in a earlier posting on this blog. (see Thang's last Denial of Racism thread). I'm hoping to publish the paper with a Malaysian think-tank or with the Straits Times.

So it'd be good to keep this posting courteous and away from personal attacks. After all, it's good for knuckle-draggers like Steve to be able to interact with people other than coarse, beer-swilling ockers.

Achmad

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Achmad Sudarsono said...

Also - I should mention that both Mr. Steve and Mr. Oigal have a tendency to try to derail discussions based on facts into personal mud-slinging exercises based on who's the most "racist." Gents, your comments are VERY welcome, but try to stay on track.

10:40 PM  
Anonymous Jaya Subramaniam said...

All,

I don't know if it's just me, but does anyone else find these Bules as disgusting and foul as I do ?

If find it a combination of:

a) their personal habits - consorting with prostitutes etc.

b) cultural arrogance - assuming that "white" is the best.

and

c) general stupidity - lack of prowess at maths, engineering and the hard sciences, then trying to outsource it all to Koreans, Chinesee, Indians, etc. (BTW - the Koreans don't exactly smell like roses either with all that Kimchee they eat, but it's a darnsight better than fosters or meat-pies !)

Jaya

3:50 AM  
Blogger THE PENTONARC said...

For Christ's sake (or Allah's) Do we really have enter this discussion with personal hangups: Jaya (whatever your name is) ... you are an ignorant dog (I've had a few beers!) and Thang you obviously have a point that we are all aware of and the issue just reflects the arbitrary legal system in Indonesia and the weakness of SBY's government; regaring the Poso three's executions...

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Jaya Subramaniam said...

Pentonarc,

There's no need to get personal or liken me to an animal. It's quite an insult to a Hindu as human life is the highest of the reincarnations. Of course there are strata within humans. My point is that it's hard to know where to put these Bules. I don't have anything against them, I'm just stating a fact. To quote Mr. Achmad, let's steer away from personal comments; I was generalizing about an racial group.

10:46 AM  
Blogger oigal said...

"I was generalizing about an racial group." or "There's no need to get personal"

Gotta love it..

mmm..Thang..your points are taking a hammering from unexpected quarters..

Don't you think its time to grow up kids.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Thang D. Nguyen said...

The Pentonarc -

Welcome to my column! I am glad to see another reader acknowdge the legitimacy of the point I raised in this article.

Oigal -

I write what I write. Liking, disliking, agreeing, disagreeing: All those things are for readers.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Jaya Subramaniam said...

Oigal,

What's the problem ? I wasn't getting personal - I was speaking about a group as a whole, not singling out indviduals.

Also, why do you have this latent hostility to scholars and commentators like Mr. Achmad (in previous postings) and Mr. Thang ?They seem to be just trying to contribute to international understanding by informed commentary ? Why do all these people try to tear him down by reverting to racial and ethnic stereotyping ?

The thing is, Mr. Oigal, in Asia we don't have as confrontational a style a debate as you do in the West. We've learned in our 5,000 years of civilization, most of which Caucasians were gnawing animal bones and clubbing their wives, that our style is better fitted to discussion.

Mr Oigal, I'd like to appeal to your sense of reason, justice and fairness to consider Mr. Thang's well-thought out arguments in more detail. On an avuncular note, it would behoove you to cultivate a respect for those more cultivated than yourself - and I mean that in the kindest of ways.

I remain yours respectfully,

Jaya

9:38 PM  
Blogger oigal said...

Well if nothing else Jaya your personal dislikes are broad in the extreme and mildly amusing, albeit surprising for a "educated" person. Not content with disrespecting a whole nationality, you include all "bule" you then manage to include the Koreans for good measure..impressive cv of prejudice you have there. Is it difficult keeping them all under control when you are amongst us all?

oh well.."The tendency of the casual mind is to pick out or stumble upon a sample which supports or defies its prejudices, and then to make it the representative of a whole class."

The most interesting (sad)thing would be where did you learn to hate so well. You are missing so much in life by painting yourself into such dark tiny box.

But I do thank you and Achmad for your non-personal posts. I do appreciate your interests in my linage, and my drinking habits, choice of partner and overall cultural failings...Whilst all wrong and displaying an ignorance of normal social standards, I am glad my life enlightens yours.

Seriously, I really do appreciate you proving my previous point.

BTW..If you ever do have a point on the post or any others that you would like to discuss (other than your prejudices) do let me know.

In the meantime..I shall ponder these little gems from you (and continue to suspect are not really who you say are)..

"Why do all these people try to tear him down by reverting to racial and ethnic stereotyping ? "

"most of which Caucasians were gnawing animal bones and clubbing their wives"

"lack of prowess at maths, engineering and the hard sciences, then trying to outsource it all to Koreans, Chinesee, Indians, etc. (BTW - the Koreans don't exactly smell like roses either with all that Kimchee they eat,"

"Bules as disgusting and foul as I do "

Classics in their own ironic right..

thanks for the entertainment

3:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Oigal,

Thank you for your comments. I welcome discussions.

* May I ask as to the origins of your suspicion as to why I am not who I say I am ?

* Also, have you ever smelled a Kimchee eating Korean ?

* I don't think it's fair you're painting me as a narrow-minded bigoted person, as I am, as you say,a very educated personage. My main complaints are about Caucasians, with only minor distaste directed towards Asiatics, Arabs and Negroes.

Once again, I am glad you found my comments enlightening and I hope we can continue to be cordial friends in the future.

Jaya

4:28 AM  
Anonymous Jaya Subramaniam said...

Mr. Oigal,

My dear fellow,

Upon reading your posting a second time, I note that I might have given you the wrong impression.

I never meant to question your choice of spouse. If I gave the impression that I did, I am sorry.

I hope that you didn't take any of the other comments "the wrong way" as they say in the Western world.

I trust you find your habitual activities to be enjoyable.

Jaya

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think faith has anything to do with the sentences. The proceeding and process in court dictates the sentences. And it was obviuous that Tibo Cs were proven guilty. Our system in Indonesia does allow death sentence, which I think we should advocate our law maker to abandon this very uncivilized sentence. We must not play God! As for Baasyir and other convicts for the Bali bombing, I believe they have paid their dues. Why don't we put aside our differences and try to highlight our similiarity? If you study all the ethnic unrest in Indonesia, you will find that it happened only in areas where Moslems are the minority, not vice versa. Thang, if you have written so much about unity in diversity and the book Indonesia Dream, I don't understand why shpuld you write such a provocating and also imbalance story like that.

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As for Baasyir and other convicts for the Bali bombing, I believe they have paid their dues. Why don't we put aside our differences"

WHy don't you ask the Indonesian and others who lost loved ones to these dogs, if they have paid their dues....

"If you study all the ethnic unrest in Indonesia, you will find that it happened only in areas where Moslems are the minority, not vice versa"

What on earth do you call Jakarta..Bandung..etc etc..

6:22 AM  
Blogger Thang D. Nguyen said...

Anonymous -

If you think that religion has nothing to do with the Poso Three case - or most of Indonesian politics, for that matter - I think you are being naive.

What dues have ABB and company paid that can really make up for what they have done, really? Two years in jail? Even 18 years, as the other anonymous suggested, can't do justice!

Even though "unity in diversity" is Indonesia's founding motto, the reality is that, while it is diverse, it is not united, and it is far - as I have shown in my article - from equality.

So, wake up!

8:53 PM  
Blogger Thang D. Nguyen said...

Anonymous -

If you think that religion has nothing to do with the Poso Three case - or most of Indonesian politics, for that matter - I think you are being naive.

What dues have ABB and company paid that can really make up for what they have done, really? Two years in jail? Even 18 years, as the other anonymous suggested, can't do justice!

Even though "unity in diversity" is Indonesia's founding motto, the reality is that, while it is diverse, it is not united, and it is far - as I have shown in my article - from equality.

So, wake up!

8:54 PM  
Blogger Thang D. Nguyen said...

Anonymous -

If you think that religion has nothing to do with the Poso Three case - or most of Indonesian politics, for that matter - I think you are being naive.

What dues have ABB and company paid that can really make up for what they have done, really? Two years in jail? Even 18 years, as the other anonymous suggested, can't do justice!

Even though "unity in diversity" is Indonesia's founding motto, the reality is that, while it is diverse, it is not united, and it is far - as I have shown in my article - from equality.

So, wake up!

8:55 PM  
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7:47 PM  

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